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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 6


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Docno: ADMS-04-06-02-0137

Author: Adams, Abigail
Recipient: Jefferson, Thomas
Date: 1785-10-19

Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson

[salute] Dear sir

Mr. Fox a young Gentleman from Philadelphia who came recommended by Dr. Rush to Mr. Adams,1 will have the Honour of delivering you this Letter. We requested him to call upon Mr. Stockdale for your papers &c. Mr. Adams is unwell,2 and will not be able to write you by this opportunity. I am to acquaint you Sir that Dr. Price has transacted the buisness respecting Mr. Hudon. The Money is paid, but the policy is not quite ready but the Dr. has promised that it shall be sent in a few days, when it will be forwarded to you.
In your English papers you will find an extract of a Letter from Nova Scotia, representing the abuse said to be received by a Captain Stanhope at Boston, the Commander of the Mercury. The account is as false—if it was not too rough a term for a Lady to use, I would say false as Hell, but I will substitute, one not less expressive and say, false as the English.
The real fact is this. One Jesse Dumbar a native of Massachusetts, and an inhabitant of a Town near Boston and one Isaac Lorthrope were during the War taken Prisoners, and from one ship to an other were finally turnd over to this Captain Stanhope Commander of the Mercury, who abused him and the rest of the Prisoners, frequently whiping them, and calling them Rebels. The ship going to Antigua to refit, he put all the prisoners into Jail and orderd poor Jesse 2 dozen lashes for refusing duty on Board his ship. This Mr. Dumbar felt as an indignity and contrary to the Law of Nations. Peace soon taking place Jesse returnd Home, but when Stanhope came to Boston, it quickened Jesses remembrance and he with his fellow sufferer went to Boston, and according to his deposition, hearing that Captain { 438 } Stanhope was walking in the Mall, he went theither at noon day and going up to the Captain asked him if he knew him, and rememberd whiping him on Board his Ship.3 Having no weapon in his hand, he struck at him with his fist, upon which Captain Stanhope, stept back and drew his sword. The people immediately interposed and gaurded Stanhope to Mr. Morten Door. Dumbar and his comrade following him, and at Mr. Mortens door he again attempted to seize him. But then the high sheriff interposed and prevented further mischief, after which they all went to their several homes. This Mr. Stanhope calls assassination and complains that the News papers abuse him. He wrote a Letter to the Govenour demanding protection. The Govenour replied by telling him that if he had been injured the Law was open to him and would redress him, upon which he wrote a very impudent abusive Letter to Mr. Bowdoin, so much so that Mr. Bowdoin thought proper to lay the whole correspondence before Congress. And Congress past some resolves in concequence and have transmitted them with Copies of the Letters to be laid before Mr. Stanhopes Master.4
Dumbars Deposition was comunicated in a private Letter by Mr. Bowdoin himself to Mr. Adams, so that no publick use can be made of it, but the Govenour was sensible that without it the truth would not be known.5
Is Col. Smith in Paris? Or have we lost him? Or is he so mortified at the King of Prussias refusing him admittance to his Reviews, that he cannot shew himself here again? This is an other English Truth, which they are industriously Circulating. I have had however, the pleasure of contradicting the Story in the most positive terms, as Col. Smith had enclosed us the Copy of his own Letter and the answer of his Majesty, which was written with his own hand.6 How mean and contemptable does this Nation render itself?
Col. Franks I hope had the good fortune to carry your things safely to you, and that they will prove so agreeable as to induce you to honour again with your Commands your Friend & Humble Servant
[signed] Abigail Adams
Compliments to the Gentlemen of your family and Love to Miss Jefferson. Mr. Rutledge has refused going to Holland. I fancy foreign embassies upon the present terms are no very tempting objects.
RC (DLC: Jefferson Papers); addressed by AA2 : “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Esqr Minister Plenipotentiary from the United states of America Paris favourd by Mr Fox”; endorsed: “Mrs Adams.” Dft (Adams Papers); notation by CFA : “1786.” The { 439 } RC is longer with more detail, but the Dft contains some important variants and additional passages that are noted below.
1. Samuel Fox, of a well-known Quaker family in Philadelphia, was introduced in Benjamin Rush to JA , 16 June (Adams Papers). Rush introduced Fox to Jefferson in a letter of the same date (Jefferson, Papers , 8:220).
2. The draft finishes this sentence: “and I know not whether he will be able to write You as Mr. Fox set[s] of early tomorrow morning.”
3. The draft has “the Mercury”, but Dunbar's deposition names the ship on which he was whipped as the Russell. AA may have re-read the deposition before preparing the recipient's copy; see note 5, below.
4. The draft has “his Majesty” in place of “Mr. Stanhopes Master.”
5. In the draft this passage reads: “Dumbars deposition was sent by Mr. Bowdoin himself to Mr. Adams and is not amongst the papers forwarded by Congress. The abuse of Stanhope to Mr. Bowdoin is however evident enough without knowing the real cause. He has powerfull connections here and is of a respectable family, but his own Character is said to be that of a profligate. The Marquis of Carmarthan has been absent which has prevented his yet receiving the communications. Tomorrow they will be presented.”
Gov. James Bowdoin wrote JA on 10 Aug. (Adams Papers), to state his side of the affair so that Adams could defend the honor of Massachusetts and the United States in this controversy. With his letter Bowdoin enclosed both a copy of the deposition of Jesse Dunbar (not Dumbar) of Hingham, Mass., dated 10 Aug. (Adams Papers), and copies of the five letters that he exchanged with Stanhope between 1 and 4 Aug. (all Adams Papers), which Bowdoin had sent to Congress. Dunbar's deposition, which AA 's account here follows almost verbatim, gives the rough dates of his captivity, from 1780 until the peace, but not the date of his whipping aboard the 74-gun ship Russell at Antigua. It also names his companion, both on the Russell and in the Mall in Boston on 31 July, as William (not Isaac) Lathrop of Sandwich, Mass. (although “William” is inserted above the line).
In his letter of 10 Aug., Gov. Bowdoin told JA that until Congress decided what action to take the enclosed letters were only for his information. On 18 Aug., Congress voted to accept Secretary for Foreign Affairs John Jay's report, based on the five letters, which strongly protested Stanhope's behavior to the British government. Jay wrote JA on 6 Sept., forwarding this protest and directing him to present it, with the letters, to the British secretary of state (Adams Papers; Dipl. Corr., 1783–1789, 2:387–296). The Bowdoin-Stanhope correspondence appeared in the London Daily Universal Register on 21 October.
Dunbar's deposition, however, was neither sent to Congress nor presented to Lord Carmarthen, and therefore was not part of the official account of this incident. Capt. Stanhope, in his letters to Bowdoin, had not mentioned Dunbar by name, but said only that he had “been pursued and my Life as well as that of one of my Officers [had] been endanger'd by the violent Rage of a Mob Yesterday Evening without Provocation of any sort.” He then urged Bowdoin “to adopt such Measures as may discover the Ringleaders of the Party that Assassinated me, and bring them to Public Justice” (Stanhope to Bowdoin, 1 Aug., copy in Adams Papers). While Bowdoin disapproved of Dunbar's assault, he felt that Stanhope had overreacted, particularly considering the orderly behavior of the crowd and the prompt action of the sheriff to protect Stanhope. And because Stanhope had not named Dunbar, Bowdoin saw no need to refer to him, but answered: “If you have been insulted, and your Life has been endangered, in manner as you have represented to me, I must inform you, that our Laws afford you ample satisfaction” (Bowdoin to Stanhope, 1 Aug., copy in Adams Papers). This reply incited Stanhope to stronger protests, prompting Bowdoin to send the correspondence to Massachusetts' delegates for presentation to Congress.
Jefferson became deeply interested in this incident, and sometime in November he wrote a brief account of the affair, to which he added a legal defense of Gov. Bowdoin's position, probably with an eye to publishing it in the Continental press to counter versions of the story that had just appeared in English newspapers which AA had forwarded to him ( AA to Jefferson, 25 Oct., below; see AA2 to JQA , 18 Oct., note 16, above). Jefferson's principal source, in addition to the Bowdoin-Stanhope letters that had already appeared in { 440 } print, was Dunbar's deposition, in the form in which AA summarized it in this letter. See Jefferson to AA , 20 Nov., below, and “Jefferson's Account of the Stanhope Affair,” undated, in Jefferson, Papers , 9:4–7. Congress' handling of the affair is in JCC , 29:637–647 [18 Aug. 1785].
6. In the draft AA ends this paragraph: “How feeble must that cause be which <only> has baseness meanness and falshood for its support. How contemptable does this Nation render itself?” See William Stephens Smith to AA , 5 Sept., and note 7, above.

Docno: ADMS-04-06-02-0138

Author: Cranch, Mary Smith
Recipient: Adams, Abigail
Date: 1785-10-23

Mary Smith Cranch to Abigail Adams

[salute] My dear Sister

I hope my dear Sister you have receiv'd the Letter You was looking for in Callahan.2 I think I did not send it till the next Ship Saild. I have put a very long letter aboard this Ship a month since,3 supposing she would sail in a few days. Last night I receiv'd your Letter of the i6th of august4 and am not a little surpriz'd at the contents.
My dear Niece has acted with a Spirit worthy of her Parents. We have been for a long time very anxious for her Happiness. I have been so affraid of making mischief that I know not if I have done my duty towards her. As it has turn'd out I am thankful I have said no more, but dear girl what a time she has had of it ever since she has been in Europe. I hope she will now enjoy herself, and that you my Sister will have more tranquil moments than I am sure you have had for these three years. She may assure herself of the approbation of every Friend she has. You need not fear any thing from general Palmer's Family: she will have nothing else there. I will give you the reason some other time, at present the least that is said will be best. I have not seen him, for a month. He boards at Mrs. Palmers at Boston.
Aunt Tufts my dear Sister has almost exchang'd this world for a better. She discovers great fortitude patience and resignation. She cannot continue many days I think. She has been like a Parent to us. Tis hard parting with such dear Freinds.
Mr. Shaw and Sister went from here last week. She looks better than I have seen her some time. Your Sons were well. I had a charming Letter from Cousin John.5 Betsy he says has made him very happy by making her visit at Haverhil while he is there. He is very studious. Cousin Charles is here, 'tis their Fall vacancy.6 He behaves well at college, loves his Tutor exceedingly. This is a very good Sign; He Loves his Aunt too, I believe, and that is another good sign. You know not my dear Sister how attach'd I feel myself to these children.
Your mother Hall is well and I believe contented. I have heard nothing since. I shall deliver her the money when it arrives.
Esters Friends are all well, all your Neighbours are so except Eben. { 441 } Belchers wife who I believe has almost kill'd herself with Rum. She is very sick and poor not a shift to her Back nor a Blanket to cover her.
Mr. Cranch deliver'd your compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Apthorp, soon after they sent in, the inclos'd Billit.7 I send it as I could not express their Sentiments so well.
Cousin Betsy Kent is here and desires me to give her Love to you all. I have the same request from so many (uncle Quincy and Mr. Wibird in particular) that my paper will not hold their names. Miss Hannah Clark is publish'd. That Family are among the number who remember you with affection. Huldy Kent, Hannah and Sally Austin are thinking about matrimony.8
Lucy has already written you9 but desires her Duty. Billy is at home and sends his. Mr. Cranch will send you some chocolate if he can find any that is good, and can get the capn. to take it in his chest. He desires his Love to you. He has sent a Long Letter to Mr. Adams10 and all the news papers since the first seting of the Court to this day.
My most affectionate regards to him if you please & believe me your affectionate Sister
RC (Adams Papers); filmed under the date Oct. 1785 (Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 366).
1. Two visits mentioned in the letter suggest that Mary Cranch wrote on either 23 or 24 October. Sunday was the 23d, the first day of the new week since the departure of Rev. John and Elizabeth Shaw from Braintree “last week”; they arrived in Haverhill on 20 Oct. (JQA, Diary , 1:344). CA 's visit to Braintree during Harvard's fall vacation, ended with his departure for Haverhill on 24 or 25 Oct. (same, 1:347).
2. Mary Cranch to AA , 19 July, above; see AA 's letter to Cotton Tufts, 18 Aug., above, for her disappointment upon not receiving any letters from America by Capt. Callahan.
3. That of 14 Aug., above, finished on 16 September.
4. Dated 15 Aug., above, but finished on the 16th.
5. Of 8 Oct., above.
6. The fall vacation break at Harvard extended for two weeks, ending on 2 Nov. (JQA, Diary , 1:347, 350).
7. Not found.
8. Huldah Kent, apparently a granddaughter of AA 's paternal aunt, Anna Smith Kent, married Rev. Israel Evans in 1786 (Cotton Tufts to AA , 14 Oct. 1786, Adams Papers). Hannah and Sally Austin were probably granddaughters of AA 's paternal aunt, Mary Smith Austin (Thomas B. Wyman, The Genealogies and Estates of Charlestown, Boston, 1879, 1:29; 2:874).
9. On 19 Sept., above.
10. Richard Cranch to JA , 13 Oct. (Adams Papers).